Matt Murray was ‘solid’ for Penguins in return to starting role

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After backing the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup last year, Matt Murray finally made his first start of the 2017 playoffs on Friday.

The Penguins held on for the win, tying the Eastern Conference Final with the Ottawa Senators at 2-2. Murray, put back into the No. 1 role after coach Mike Sullivan opted to go with the 22-year-old puck stopper over Marc-Andre Fleury in the wake of a Game 3 loss, made 24 saves for the win.

The Sens made it interesting in the third period, cutting Pittsburgh’s lead to just a goal and then getting a power play in the final minute with a chance to tie the game.

The Sens looked outmatched through two periods but pushed for the equalizer in the third. Murray turned aside nine of 10 shots faced in the final 20 minutes.

“I thought Matt was solid. He made some timely saves for us when we needed it,” said Sullivan. “He has a calm demeanor about him. I thought he was tracking the puck extremely well. And certainly, he made a couple of key saves for us at key times. We’re fortunate that we have the guys that we have back there, whether it be Matt or Marc.”

The Penguins got the desired result Friday, but this was still another goaltending gamble from Sullivan. Once again, it worked out in his favor.

“We believe that we have both guys back there that are really high quality goaltenders,” he said. “So these decisions aren’t easy — which particular guy that we choose to put in the net. Certainly, we trust these guys, and that’s why we can make these types of decisions.”

Following the win, Fleury spoke about once again being placed in the back-up role. His future with the Penguins will certainly be up for discussion once the season comes to an end, but for now, he’s sticking true to the team-first mentality.

“I don’t want to make this about me,” Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Last playoff, this season, it’s about the team. We won [Friday]. Scored some goals. That was nice.”